Marvel’s Runaways Ends Season One On A High Note With “Hostile”

by Rachel Bellwoar

I’ve sometimes been hard on Runaways, throughout these reviews, but I also hope I’ve given the show credit where it’s due, and the season finale deserves a lot of praise for closing season one on a high note.

There’s an idea that season finales are given over to action but with “Hostile,” that’s not always, or predominantly, the case. There’s an intimacy to this episode beyond which you expect to encounter, especially for a show based on a comic book property.

James Yaegashi, Brittany Ishibashi, Brigid Brannagh, Annie Wersching, Julian McMahon, Kip Pardue, Kevin Weisman and Ryan Sands (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

Instead of working up to the big confrontation between the parents and their kids, “Hostile” opens with it and leaves the rest of the runtime for one-on-one conversations. Characters are paired up and filmed close together, for a personal feel that doesn’t allow the situation they’re in to steal from their relationships. It’s as though the characters involved in these scenes are the only people in the world, and it’s how you get such loving exchanges as the good-bye between Gert and Old Lace, as they play out a classic, human-loves-monster fairy tale.

With regards to the other romances on the show, Runaways knows exactly how much attention to pay to each. Nico and Karolina get to address their feelings directly and say their kiss wasn’t a fluke. Gert and Chase don’t exchange words, yet we see their relationship start to heal with the quiet visual of them sleeping, face to face. Gert needed to hear from someone else that Chase likes her, and I love that her talk with Nico also medically diagnoses her anxiety, since she’s been without meds and her ’emotional support dinosaur.’

Which leaves Alex. As successful as Rhenzy Feliz has been in the part, Alex is the one character the show’s semi-failed. He’s supposed to be the odd man out, when it comes to powers and gear, but he’s also been out ruled as leader, by proposing they leave Karolina, and overly guarded with his friends (sneaking off for a gun without telling them). Sharing an outlier position with his parents, I appreciate that Nico isn’t suddenly disinterested in their friendship, and she’s the first to realize he’s back before the others.

Gregg Sulkin, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer and Rhenzy Feliz (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

It’s reasonable for Alex to be getting cold feet, but not this late in the game. Now is the time for teens to walk, united in their refusal to be knocked down, while rousing music plays in the background.

Karolina’s hero moment is the coolest on the show. Where many people felt empowered after watching Wonder Woman, for me it’s seeing Karolina’s calm resolve to fight Jonah that’s inspiring. Her strength is contagious and everything about this sequence works, down to their powers being colored differently (Jonah’s are more blue, Karolina’s are more pink).

Chase and Molly’s undercover mission to rescue her could’ve been a save the princess moment, but Runaways doesn’t play it that way. Molly’s the one knocking down the door at Gibborim, and I love that there’s no discussion about letting her go on this mission. Molly’s being treated as an equal.

In the end, while Pride (or the Wilders) place an Amber Alert out on Molly and frame their kids for murder, the biggest change from the comics is the parents being unwilling to physically hurt their kids. Their ferocity was the most shocking aspect of the comics, setting the series apart from others, but at the same time, I can understand why there wouldn’t be value in depicting that on screen. By limiting the violence to Victor, the show can take a firm stance against child abuse.

Other thoughts on “Hostile:”

  • Best Eye Acting: toss-up between Tina’s I’m-going-to-kill-you eyes and Leslie’s sad ones, as she stoically accepts Pride’s anger and accountability
  • The social commentary in this episode is scalding, as the kids feel their privilege when they learn how much chicken costs and buy clothes at a thrift store.
  • When Tina destroyed Jonah’s rejuvenation process, he didn’t flinch. Why is he ok with turning back into Chalky guy, and does it have something to do with the being living underneath the dig site?
  • What is Darius’ part in all this? There would’ve been no reason for him to be at the dig site unless Runaways wanted him there, so why? Is he meant to show us an outsider’s opinion on Pride, because he doesn’t get enough screen time, and when Alex calls him for cash and a gun, Darius doesn’t bring up what he saw, or deliver so much as a probing look.
  • Playing against the other intimate scenes in “Hostile,” when Frank and Jonah have a conversation there’s a strong backlight, that makes it difficult to make out their faces.
  • Nice detail: After Karolina and Jonah cause an EMP, the opening credits has static.
  • Favorite Image Taken From the Comics: Karolina’s outfit — the yellow, razorback tank top with side braid and lavender ribbon.

Marvel’s Runaways Season 1 is streaming on Hulu.